Slip out of consciousness and into a deep, euphoric sleep. Crack your eyes open and see a wide, verdant field occupied by trees, their leaves fluttering in a gentle wind. A group of bunny rabbits are palling around, chasing each other’s tails and making cute, small animal noises. Mystical pixies offer you a chalice of water, which tastes like sweet nectar hand-churned by Mother Nature herself. Worry has no place here.
At the top of the hill behind you, a band plays. That band is the only one worthy of such a sunshiny venue: the Polyphonic Spree.
Musically, front man Tim DeLaughter and his 20-or-so bandmates have reached mythical levels of happiness. Their signature song, "Light & Day," sends flowers into bloom and parts clouds to make room for sun. With Yes, It’s True, the band's first new, non-Christmas album since 2007 (and first ever Kickstarter-funded effort), the Spree’s blazing beacon of positivity is shining as brightly as it ever has, but with a new edge that is more clearly defined.
The Polyphonic Spree's first three records comprise a multi-album-concept-opus-thing (the tracks are titled "Section 1" through "Section 32"), but Yes, It’s True escapes the bounds of that structure; each of its songs has a full title. It makes sense. In terms of both time and sound, this album is separate from the band's previous work.
While the Polyphonic Spree are essentially a flower-power cult of white-robed musicians who radiate absolute, ambient joy, the opening track, “You Don’t Know Me” (video above), kicks off the record with a sense of propulsion that isn’t necessarily missing from the group’s catalog, but has never been as obvious as it is here.
At times, the Spree are reminiscent of Yoshimi-era Flaming Lips, an optimistic and out-there group whose output is both instantly digestible and deliciously boundary-pushing. Even DeLaughter’s vocals are eerily reminiscent of Flaming Lips front man Wayne Coyne’s gentle-yet-powerful singing. That’s not to say that the Polyphonic Spree has abandoned their robes to battle evil-natured robots. The symphonic group vocals and idiosyncratic lighthearted cheer haven’t gone anywhere.
The Flaming Lips comparison is also a testament to the Polyphonic Spree’s ability to expand their musical identity while not abandoning their philosophy: they’re still here to take everybody to the ninth cloud of seventh heaven. Lay back, open your eyes, and have a look at the beautiful dream DeLaughter and company have crafted.